The Golden Gammage Gala (GO GAGA) on March 7 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort is teeming already with unmatched brilliance. Like a new found constellation, this year’s event is aglitter with new stars to honor and preserve our ever changing, but ever bright ASU Gammage galaxy.
“Culminating with this Golden 50th Anniversary, this final gala celebrates the iconic last building of Frank Lloyd Wright,” says Leslie Rich, the remarkable chair of all three galas. This year Rich is joined by co-chair Mary Way who she describes as a “fabulous asset.”
Fittingly, this year’s gala theme is “stars.” Rich, who is an interior designer by trade with a flare for making things sparkle, notes, “This anniversary gala is all about stars … stars on Broadway, stars that have gotten started at ASU Gammage. But the most important stars are our patrons, the 500,000 people who come to ASU Gammage every year. They are our stars. They make it all worthwhile for us to be doing what we’re doing, to help raise money and facilitate some of the improvements that will be coming to the hall.”
The gala evening itself will twinkle with a host of new faces and traditions. Namely, Broadway sensation Sutton Foster is headlining the evening’s entertainment and the very first GAMMY Award will be presented.
This past year Foster starred in her latest Tony-nominated role as the title character of the Broadway production of VIOLET. Foster is probably best known for her Tony Award®-winning performance in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, and she also originated roles in the Broadway productions of LITTLE WOMEN, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and SHREK THE MUSICAL. In The Roundabout’s revival of ANYTHING GOES, Foster earned the 2011 Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, Astaire and Broadway.com‘s Audience Favorite awards for her starring role as Reno Sweeney.
ASU Gammage Executive Director Colleen Jennings-Roggensack thinks about Foster’s starring appearance at the Gammage gala in metaphorical terms. “I often say that Broadway is the longest road in America, and ASU Gammage is the brightest stop on that road.” She elaborates by tying her personal knowledge of our architectural performance hall masterpiece to the acclaimed actress.
“Tony Award®-winning Sutton Foster and the Broadway community considers ASU Gammage the top theatre for touring Broadway. It is an important theatre for Broadway actors as many have performed on our stage.The 50th Anniversary of ASU Gammage and the renown cultural participation work ranging from the national ATPAM/League Diversity Initiative, TalkBack Thursday, Camp Broadway to the Rising Star of Broadway awards are just some of our [Arizona] programs that enhance and further Broadway and touring Broadway. Sutton is honoring that work.”
In addition to Foster’s gala appearance, Rich bubbles with news of a new Gammage tradition. “We’ve created the GAMMY Award this year. It’s designed to spotlight a person with outstanding national or international presence for their theatrical work as well as their commitment to the arts.”
Then, with drum roll aplomb, Jennings-Roggensack announces, “We are presenting this first annual GAMMY Award for excellence and outstanding contribution to Broadway … to David Stone. As producer of the phenomenal and long running WICKED, David Stone is a leader of Broadway.”
Also in attendances will be humorist, journalist, and actor Mo Rocca. The reporter who is well known for his off-beat news reports and satirical commentary will serve as emcee. Currently a correspondent for “CBS Sunday Morning News,” he’s also a panelist on NPR’s hit weekly quiz show “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”. He spent four seasons each as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” before hosting his current Cooking Channel hit series “My Grandmother’s Ravioli,” in which he learns to cook from grandmothers and grandfathers across the country.
The place where it all happens is due some notable enthusiasm, too. “We are excited to move to the gorgeous, grand iconic ballroom at the Arizona Biltmore,” says Rich as she explains the change. “The last two years that it was onstage at ASU Gammage, we were constrained with the size. Only 330 people could come. We’re branching out now so we can get more people because this is our last year of doing this. If people want to participate and show their appreciation, this is the 50th; this is it.”
With a sentiment spanning light years forward, Jennings-Roggensack waxes nostalgic. “I believe president Gammage and Frank Lloyd Wright’s dream about a magnificent theater to house the world’s best art and culture for the community has come to fruition. It’s now my job, along with the help of community donors and patrons, to ensure ASU Gammage’s future stays bright for the next 50 years.”
This 50th glows golden, from the patrons to the pay-it-forward volunteers to the star-studded cast to the tireless staff. During and after this most lustrous of ASU Gammage galas, its stars will continue to shine bright and strong.
For tickets to the Gala and more information:
or call, (480)965-5062